Are African Tigerfish Equivalent to the South American Piranha?
Yes, Tigerfish can be considered Africa’s equivalent to the South American piranha, though they belong to a completely different family, as they are famous for their ferocity when hunting. The African tigerfish is the first freshwater fish recorded and confirmed to attack and catch birds in flight. The behavior was filmed at Schroda Dam, a man-made lake in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Goliath Tiger or Tigerfish is the general name for a diversity of species from numerous different families of fish, typically on account of their coloration or otherwise fearsome appearance. Several species in the genus Hydrocynus of the family Alestiidae are called “tigerfish” and are particularly prized as gamefish.
These African fish are found in many rivers and lakes on the continent and are fierce predators with distinctive protruding teeth. The two most common species are probably most recognizable in Southern Africa. The first is the Goliath Tiger (Hydrocynus goliath), which is found in the Congo River system, the largest of the family.
The second-largest, and the southernmost species, is the Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus), commonly found in the Zambezi River and in the two biggest lakes along the Zambezi, Lake Kariba in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Cabora Bassa in Mozambique and Jozini dam in South Africa.
They have razor-sharp teeth that are interlocking, along with streamlined, muscular bodies built for speed. Tigerfish are aggressive predators. A tigerfish has a gas-filled sac in its body that it uses as a sound receiver. This transmits vibrations from the water, enabling it to detect any animals nearby and respond accordingly.
A school of juveniles can tackle animals of almost any size, including any land animals that stray too close to the water’s edge. Adults tend to travel in smaller groups of four or five, but they are no less dangerous. Even an individual can take down prey as large as itself.
When food is scarce or the competition for food is too great, tigerfish may resort to cannibalism. This is particularly common in the dry season. Tigerfish have also been known to attack humans, these attacks can be devastating owing to their sharp teeth and aggressive hunting tactics.
Goliath Tigerfish is easily caught between dawn and nightfall. A 30-40 pound fish is considered a great catch, while 50-60 pounders would be a monster. Goliath Tigerfish is the world’s largest member of the Characins, which includes of following fish in the families, tetras, dollars, pencilfish, and piranhas. The Goliath tigerfish can weigh up to over 100 pounds.